Domestic violence survivor receives donated van


An Indianapolis woman who survived years of domestic violence was awarded a refurbished van by a local dealership to help her get back on her feet.

Shellie became the first recipient of the Wheels to Recovery program, Wednesday evening. The Pearson Automotive Performance Collision Center worked with several other area businesses to repair and restore a vehicle that she would be able to use to start her new life.

At the unveiling event, Shellie shed tears when she first saw the van with a big red bow on it.

"I never ever imagined myself where I'm at today," she said.

Shellie’s struggles began in childhood when she got involved in abusive relationships and became a teenage mother. She also turned to drugs and eventually lost custody of her children.

That’s when she turned to the Julian Center, an agency that helps domestic violence victims get back on their feet.

She said she received a lot of help and support, got clean, gained custody of her kids, and went on to graduate at the top of her class to become a certified EMT. She also recently scored a brand new job.

The young mother who used to walk almost 20 blocks one way to get her kids to daycare, will now have a much easier way to get where she and her family needs to go.

"I thought my life would never ever change. So today I was really, really grateful for all the people that I have around me," she said.

Those behind the gift felt grateful for the opportunity to help her in this special way.

"Shellie is just such a hard worker and we couldn't give this to a better person," said Rich Pedigo, manager at the Collision Center.

Now Shellie plans on using her life to save other lives, as an EMT. She starts classes in January to earn a degree in nursing. Her dream is to become an in-flight nurse with Lifeline.

She also wants to reach out to other women who’ve suffered abuse and visit inmates at women’s prisons.

"I know lots of lots of girls... that are in horrible, violent relationships. And that's what their lives consist of. Violence and anger and pain,” said Shellie. “I just want them to know that's not what life has to be about."

Pedigo said the company already has plans to donate to the Wheels to Recovery program again next year.

To learn more about the cause and the Julian Center, click here (


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